Saturday, November 10, 2007

From Russia with Love

Intourist. Transsiberian express
M. Litvak, 1930

Here is a great example of the advertising posters of the thirties. This one is aimed at foreign audience as it is promoting the Transsiberian Express journey.

The poster shows a curved surface of the Earth with symbols of Moscow and Beijing shown: to the left there are Kremlin towers and a dome of Saint Basil's Cathedral. Moscow is the starting point of the Transsiberian Railway. Its four routes nowadays lead to Vladivostok – the largest of the Eastern Russian Cities (6430 km from Moscow), to North Korea, Mongolia and China arriving at Beijing. On the poster this is signified by the Chinese pagoda and Shinto shrine gate – torii, meaning that this is also an easy way to get to Japan.

The poster is very dynamic – the train is moving fast through the red star gate, gate to the communist Russia. The header sais: “Transsiberian Express! The shortest way from Europe to the Far East”. The footer goes: “Intourist. Moscow. Hotel Metropol. The tickets in all major travelling agencies of the West”. Intourist was the official state travel agency of Soviet Union, founded in 1929, after the Soviet Union had been recognized by the majority of the Western States.

The cars have signs, which prove the high class of the long journey – the train has sleeping cars and dining cars as well. Below the train there are the names of the cities like Berlin, Moscow and finally Beijing. The Earth also has the price tag displayed. The first class 12 day journey costs 250 USD – which was quite a reasonable price bearing in mind the Great Depression of 1929.

But why German is the language of the poster? The thing was that according to the Treaty of Versailles Germany’s rights had been significantly derogated, especially in terms of weapons development and manufacturing. So Germany was looking for partners who could help it restore its military potential after the loss of WW1. In contravention to the Treaty Junkers (a German aircraft builder) was assembling its plains near Moscow and Krupp was building artillery works in the Central Asia. By 1929 Soviet Union had agreements with 27 German companies.

And in return the young Soviet Union, who was in bad need for modern technologies on its way to becoming an industrial power, received perfect training for its specialists. German professionals could have ample wages if travelled to Russia and shared their experience.

Purchase the trains art prints at allposters!